Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Sides of a Copper Coin: The Coloring of Rachel Dolezal and Sandra Bland in a Post-Racial America


     I have always found the term post-racial to not only be peculiar and oxymoronic, but flat out asinine. (didn’t want to say stupid)  How on God’s green Earth, and, more specifically God’s chosen land via the notion of the European settlers’ ideology of manifest destiny, which was an inkling of their impetus to settle in the New World, now known as the United States of America, a nation built and defined on the aesthetics of color and Race, possibly be beyond color and Race which the the word post connotes?  The idea of post delineates that there was an America that existed before race, and, now, in 2015, Race is an afterthought or an afterword in the narrative of U.S. History.  Basically, the nation is post-racial because color and Race no longer carry any rewards nor consequences in American culture (i.e. social, political, and economic).  Yet, let us look with a keen third eye at what Race and Blackness brought upon one Rachel Dolezal and Ms. Sandra Bland.

      Within the past month, the nation has seen two educated women castigated in the national media for their respective behaviors.  Both women were educated.  Both women spoke out with loud tongues concerning the atrocities and inequalities and injustices heaped upon African Americans in the United States.  Both women, whether through culture or biology, identified themselves as Black.  One was a professor of Africana Studies.  One was beginning a new career as a Student Ambassador at Texas A & M Prairie View, her alma mater and one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU).  Dolezal lectured on the culture of Black America, both the triumphs and tragedies, while Bland publicly spoke and protested against unjust police brutality amongst Black Americans (particularly social media videos entitled “Sandra Speaks").  The dichotomy that exists between these two women is a parallel of Race that can be pontificated, analysed, and researched for years to come. 

      Rachel Dolezal’s decision to “pass” for Black in America was scrutinized and even demonized, mainly, by the Black community, particularly the Black Intelligentsia.  Whereas there were some that chanted the forgiving-mantra of Black America “Let that woman be”, most Black Americans that I came into contact with in the real world and via social media felt betrayed because while Rachel benefitted from her public identifying of Black (NAACP chapter president, adjunct professorship of Africana Studies) she, up until last month, lived a life null and void of the constant harassment and blatant and subtle discrimination and subordination that lurks around the corners of life for most of Black America.  Now though, Dolezal is out of work and complaining that her career and career opportunities have been ruined because of her clandestine racial fraud.  Some would say she has reaped what she has sown.  But, what about the literal demise of Sandra Bland? 

      Bland was accosted, man-handled, degraded, and, in my opinion, unlawfully arrested in Texas because of a failure to signal when changing lanes.  Three days after that arrest she was found dead in her cell from an alleged suicide.  See what Blackness can get you?  The difference is the costume that Rachel Dolezal paraded around in could’ve been removed at any time and only landed her in the unemployment line.  On the other hand, the Negroidian uniform of Blackness that Sandra Bland has donned from birth landed her in a dank cell and eventually a grave.  Rachel’s perceived Black womanhood and defiance in the form of celebrating Black culture landed her on CNN, low-key lobbying for a book deal.  Yet, she was alive—explaining to the media why she felt the need to “pass”.  Sandra’s skin tone and hue caused her to end up on CNN and the national media dead—only alive in a mugshot and a video of her arrest.  Her voice can be heard questioning the police officer about his egregious behavior and arrest on the aforementioned video.  That is all that is left of Sandra Bland and her blackness.  Rachel, for the most part, will probably cease visiting the tanning salon, take the weave and braids out of her head, lay off the collard greens and mac n’ cheese and reemerge somewhere as a white woman—alive and well.  Bet you she’s glad she wasn’t “Black” in that car down in Prairie View, Texas now.  She’s probably cuttin’ a jig because she was outed just in time.  I will bet a dollar to a dime that she’s not in a rush to claim her blackness these days.  Rachel, if you’re reading this, which I seriously doubt, see what Black gets you?

                                                                                                   -Gee Joyner